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Sep 11

Wallcovering Removal

Posted by C. Mason Hearn in wallpaper, DIY

Help! I have planned to remove wallpaper in a small bathroom today while my husband takes our three children to a football game. I have done this before and generally know how to do it, but it isn't going well. I have scored the paper and am using the DIF wallpaper remover. I have covered it with plastic bags to allow the remover to soak into the paper prior to scraping. It isn't coming off and I fear that there is a coating on the paper. Do you have any suggestions?

Sara in Richmond


A mother of three should not have to remove wallpaper. I take it that you are much less of a sports fan than you are committed to home improvements!

Wallcovering removal is like a box of chocolates, isn’t it? You never know what you’re going to get… If the walls were pre-sized and strippable paste was used, it often comes off like a charm. Otherwise, and depending on other methods and conditions of its installation and materials, it can be a bugger! Some wallcoverings have vinyl coatings which, true to their original purpose, resist stains and moisture… and the absorption of strippers.

For the latter case that you are enduring, you need to better perforate the paper for the stripper to reach the paste – try a product called the PaperTiger by Zinsser, available at most home supply stores. Careful use of course sandpaper (60 – 80 grit) is also a possibility with coated papers. DIF is a GREAT stripping product that I’ve had the most success with; I recommend it highly for most applications. For the most problematic cases, try a steamer (available at most rental centers) which heat may help in the moisture penetration process.

Many times, in combination with the methods described above, the process is just plain tedious and requires plenty of elbow grease and patience, removing a few inches at a time.

Certainly do be careful of some of the harsher techniques especially if you have a drywall substrate. Naturally, the paper face of the drywall is quite prone to damage.

Good luck!


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